Jakarta, IO – The foreign ministers of India, Japan, Australia and the United States met in New Delhi on 3 March 2023 on the sidelines of the G20 ministerial deliberations in New Delhi. Being a regional “minilateral” grouping of like-minded countries, the Quad, which was raised to the summit-level two years ago, focuses almost all of its attention on various issues pertaining to the Indo-Pacific region. The grouping is characterised by flexibility and functionality, devoid of any binding treaty or institutional framework. The four ministers had met twice in 2022, first in Melbourne and then in New York. From September 2019 to March 2023, the Quad ministers have met five times in person and once in virtual mode.
A new Working Group on Counter-Terrorism was announced during the latest New Delhi ministerial, while the grouping’s Maritime Security Working Group is scheduled to meet in Washington DC later this month. Being multi-aligned, India remains as the only Quad member that has not categorically condemned Russia for its actions in Ukraine. Moreover, India’s status of being the only non-ally of the U.S. within the Quad and its simultaneous participation in Russia and China led groupings such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) makes its presence in the Quad very unique in itself.
Going beyond the region
While the Quad’s scope of deliberations is largely positioned in the maritime domain of the Indo-Pacific, the ministers chose to make a reference to an ongoing conflict in the Eurasian landmass for the first time – the Ukraine conflict. The joint statement that was released shortly following the discussions between the four foreign ministers in New Delhi called for “a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine in accordance with international law, including the UN Charter” and emphasised that “the rules-based international order must respect sovereignty, territorial integrity, transparency and peaceful resolution of disputes”, in a veiled reference to Russia.
While the joint statement of the previous Quad ministerial held in New York had no mention of Ukraine, there was a clear statement of the bloc’s position on the Ukraine conflict in this year. At the same time, in a parallel event co-hosted by India’s Ministry of External Affairs, the Raisina Dialogue, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov was given an opportunity to speak on the conflict from a Russian perspective, in an on-the-record interview. The forum also hosted a panel discussion between the Quad foreign ministers on the same day, during which India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar said that the grouping can “make a difference” in the fields of supply chain resilience, digital technology and connectivity through collective effort and reiterated that the Quad is “for the common good” and not “against” anyone.